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10,000 garment jobs disappear in days: Bangla trade unions

Apr '20
Pic: Shutterstock
Pic: Shutterstock
Concerned over mass sacking in garment factories amid the COVID-19 outbreak, labour union leaders in Bangladesh recently demanded immediate reinstatement of all terminated workers with full monthly wages. Three unions, in a joint statement, claimed around 10,000 garment workers from Dhaka, Savar, Gazipur, Ashulia, Narayanganj and Chattogram have lost jobs.

The Bangladesh Garments and Industrial Workers Federation (BGIWF), the Bangladesh Independent Garment Workers Union Federation (BIGUF) and the Bangladesh Centre for Workers Solidarity (BCWS) called on factory owners to comply with the government order and stop firing workers during the crisis, according to bangle media reports.

The three organisations suggested preparing a list of workers who have been terminated from January to March and reinstating all of them with full wage payment and inform workers about this through an official notice.

Laid-off workers of the factories would not get full or minimum wage while those having less than one year job experience would get no wages and allowances during the lay-off period, the statement said.

Despite the Prime Minister's clear directive in her second speech regarding the factory closure, most garment factory owners opted for lay-offs while some kept operations from March 26 to 31, they alleged. The other demands included keeping the garment factories closed until the extended public holidays with paid leave.

The unions also warned of launching global campaign against buyers who cancel, suspend or claim discount on their orders, citing the impact of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, another platform of 11 trade unions under the umbrella of Garments Sramik Adhikar Andolan made a six-point demand in separate memorandum sent to the the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA).

The demands include the closure of garment factories for three months or until the situation improves and making timely wage payment through mobile accounts to avoid large gathering in front of factory premises.

The coalition demanded garment factories stop terminating any workers and lay off any factories and sought clear directives from the BGMEA and the BKMEA in this connection. It also proposed formation of an emergency and health safety fund and called for making a list of corona-affected workers and bearing the expenses of their treatment by owners and proper compensation by the government, factory owners and buyers for the deceased workers.

BGMEA president Rubana Huq asked the unions to share a list of terminated workers with the association so that they can collectively study the issue with caution and detail.

She said though the BGMEA has requested its members not to terminate workers, many factories have ‘no control over what is happening’ in the developed nations and even companies with billion-dollar turnover are opting for furlough.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (DS)

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